Child Life Blog Banner (8)

Honoring Fran Ritter-ACLP's First Black President

During Black History Month, we honor and celebrate the history and accomplishments of Black individuals and communities, such as those made by Fran Ritter, former President of ACLP and the first person of color and first Black individual to hold the office.

Fran Ritter sits at tableFran had a background in teaching when she first heard about child life specialists from her sister. Soon after, she met Mary Brooks, an early child life champion, at the National Association for the Education of Young Children Conference. Within weeks she had interviewed for a child life position and was hired.

During her career, Fran served as Director of the Child Life Department at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for over two decades. She participated in the Annual Child Life Conference and Child Life Council, and from 1984 to 1986 she held the office of President on the Child Life Council Board. Fran was the first person of color and first Black individual to hold this position. 

In a 1995 interview, Fran reflected on her involvement in the field, citing growth of the Child Life Conference and the joy she found in helping young child life specialists develop their skills and confidence. As Board President, she sought to "reaffirm our mission to make people feel good at what they're doing; to believe in what they are doing."

Fran Ritter speaks
She also shared advice for new child professionals entering the field: "Keep the child and family first, believe in what (you're) doing, and see (yourself) as part of the team." 

Collaboration was key to Fran's practice and mindset, and she described her "greatest dream for child life" to be every team consisting of an MD, child life professional, and other relevant members as well as pay reflecting "the difference we make."

In 2022, Fran participated in a video celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Annual Child Life Conference, which you can watch below.

ACLP recognizes Fran's service to the field and the systemic hurdles she faced. We extend our appreciation and admiration to her and her role in child life history while acknowledging that we must continue to evolve the field to address racism and induce sustainable change. View our statement on anti-racism here.

Child Life Profession